Dennison Fire Department breaks ground on new project

Dennison Fire Department breaks ground on new project
Teri Stein

Dennison Fire Chief Dave McConnell stands where a new four-bay garage will be constructed to house the Dennison Fire Department’s vehicles. The project is expected to be completed by November.


The Dennison Fire Department recently broke ground for a new garage project during the second week of July. It’s an upgrade that is long overdue.

“We have operated out of these two single fire bays for 99 years,” Chief Dave McConnell said. “When they built this building, these bays weren’t built for the trucks we have today.”

With the formation of an EMS coalition started April 1 of this year, the Dennison Fire Department is working with Smith Ambulance to cover emergency services for the villages of Dennison and Tuscarawas and the townships of Warwick, Mill and Union.

Smith Ambulance staff members cover emergency calls from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during the time when the most calls are received. The Dennison Fire Department staff members cover emergency calls from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. using an ambulance owned by Smith Ambulance. A back-up ambulance is stationed at the department too.

“Because of the coalition, we have two additional ambulances that we haven’t had before, and we already have stuff parked outside in the parking lot and on the street because we were out of room,” McConnell said. “It was time for a serious upgrade.”

Meetings to organize the coalition began the first of the year. “When we started talking about the EMS coalition, we said we were eventually going to have to build a garage because the trucks and ambulances can’t sit outside,” McConnell said.

The planned project will be a four-stall garage, and officials hope to raise all the funds needed by donations.

“We have raised roughly $101,000 so far for this project,” McConnell said. “All together we are estimating it is going to cost us $175,000-$200,000, so we are still taking donations and contributions if anybody would like to donate.”

Donations can be sent to the Dennison Village Hall and earmarked for the Dennison Fire Department apparatus garage building. Donations have been received from the Reeves Foundation, $60,000; the Doris and Floyd Kimble Foundation, $30,000; and they are still awaiting word on another $30,000 grant. They have received many private donations as well.

Other local businesses have given in-kind donations offering manpower or materials including North Star Metals, Stocker Concrete Co. and the Dennison Bridge Company.

“We’re currently raising money for the garage doors. We’ve already gotten donations for three of them; they are at $2,500 each,” McConnell said.

The DFD will install six new doors, four for the new building, and replace the two on their current building.

Tekton Engineering is overseeing the project. Dennison Council is currently waiting on soil samples and other state approvals before the contract for the actual building is put out for bids.

McConnell estimated it would be about two to three weeks before that happens. In the meantime work is progressing on getting the site prepared. Because previous buildings were demolished years ago and the remnants dropped into their basements, the site must be dug out and refilled before it’s safe for a new building can be constructed there.

“We are hoping to have the new building done by November. Once the site is all prepared and everything is awarded, it will go quickly. It’s just getting to that point,” McConnell said.

Calls for the DFD have increased since the start of the new coalition.

“Before we started doing the EMS, we were running about 550 calls a year. So far this year, the last I looked, we were 80 calls ahead of last year,” McConnell said. “We’re halfway through the year, and as of July 20, we have transported 72 people to the hospital with the ambulance since April 1.”

That figure is just when the DFD is manning the ambulance from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

McConnell reported that so far everyone is pleased with how the coalition has been providing emergency services while saving taxpayers’ money.

“Everything is going great; we’ve had nothing but compliments. Everybody’s pleased including the township trustees, the residents and others in this coalition including Bob Smith, owner of Smith Ambulance,” McConnell said. “It’s going really good; it really is.”

McConnell said he, the DFD and the village of Dennison really appreciate the kind and generous donations to this project and other projects they do throughout the year. “The support that we receive is just phenomenal,” he said. “All the donations, the grants and funds that people have donated to this project we greatly appreciate. We’re very excited and looking forward to the future.”

The DFD plans to hold an open house when the new project is complete.

Look for other projects the DFD hosts throughout the year including a Fill-a-Truck school supply collection, Fire Safety Week programs in October, a food drive prior to Christmas and a chicken barbecue at the Dennison Railroad Festival.

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